Thoracic Surgery FAQs

What is a Thoracic Surgeon?

A thoracic surgeon is a medical doctor who treats diseases of the chest including coronary artery disease; cancers of the lung, esophagus, and chest wall; abnormalities of the great vessels and heart valves; birth defects of the chest and heart; tumors in the organs contained in the chest cavity; and transplantation of the heart and lungs. Cardiothoracic surgeons perform operations on the heart, lungs, esophagus, and other organs in the chest.

What kind of training is required to become a Thoracic Surgeon?

Thoracic surgeons are one of the most educated physicians. They graduate from medical school and most commonly go on to complete a five-year general surgery residency. After this they must successfully matriculate through an approved cardiothoracic surgery residency program for either two or three years. Some thoracic surgeons choose to do additional training in a sub-specialized area.

What is minimally invasive surgery?

These are advanced surgical techniques using high definition imaging technology and precision instruments to work through tiny incisions to perform procedures. For example, one of the most common treatments for lung cancer involves the surgical removal of the lobe of the lung, known as pulmonary lobectomy. Traditional thoracotomy and lobectomy require a large incision, often 10 inches. The procedure also commonly results in substantial blood loss and a lengthy and uncomfortable recovery.

What is the benefit of minimally invasive surgery to patients?

In comparison to traditional surgery, minimally invasive surgery generally results in less blood loss, fewer complications, shorter hospital stays and a faster return to normal daily activities. Patients may also experience less post-operative pain and scarring.

When should a patient consider seeing a Thoracic Surgeon?

Your Primary Care Physician, Cardiologist, Pulmonologist, or Gastroenterologist may send you to a thoracic surgeon if he/she feels that you could benefit from an operation to treat a condition involving the heart, lungs, esophagus, mediastinum, or the chest wall.